"Tis the season" has begun in earnest, as Black Friday makes a hasty retreat in the face of White Christmas. For me, the dilemma of trying to figure out what to give to whom has begun.
Don't misunderstand me, I love to give – at Christmas and all year long. It's just that choosing presents of any sort, for any person and for any occasion has always been a perplexing exercise.
What would they like? Do they already have it? Would a gift card be a great offering or just a socially acceptable escape from picking something more appropriate? On and on it goes. All to prove that while I like giving, choosing is another matter.
Have you ever wondered what made Magi decide to bring gold, frankincense and myrrh to the cradle of Jesus? As wealthy as they obviously were, there was clearly little that was out of their reach and even I had some good ideas: a well built cradle for starters, extended insurance to cover medical expenses for future children or even better, a fully furnished bungalow for the family.
One more donkey would mean neither Mary nor Joseph would have to walk on their way back to Nazareth.
No, they brought a token amount of money, a container of perfume and some embalming fluid.
The significance of those gifts has been well publicized over the centuries. Gold represented royalty and the Kingship of the Christ Child. The costly aroma of frankincense evoked the fragrance of His priestly role in redemption (and, as researchers at Cardiff University in Wales have suggested, it was considered a herbal remedy because it contained an active ingredient that helps relieve arthritis).
And myrrh? In recognition of His reason for coming – His sacrificial death on Calvary. The perfect gifts to give to One who loved enough to give us hope.